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Monday, August 1 , 2016
For Immediate Release
Life for Newark children continues to improve with marked progress in critical areas of child well-being, including a drop in teen births and juvenile arrests, as well as a rise in the high school graduation rate and median income, but most Newark families still live in poverty, according to the 2016 Newark Kids Count report released today.
The annual report, which tracks trends in child well-being in New Jersey’s largest city, posted gains in several key health areas, including a decrease in uninsured kids, babies born with low-birthweight and infant deaths.
“For the more than 72,000 children that call Newark home, we are moving in the right direction when it comes to their health and well-being, but our work is far from done,” said Cecilia Zalkind, president and CEO of Advocates for Children of New Jersey, which publishes the annual child well-being survey.
“With 69 percent of the city’s children living in low-income households, families need to have access to the supports and safety nets they need to help their kids grow up safe, healthy and educated.”
In Newark, fewer children were found to have elevated blood lead levels. While this is encouraging, the data also revealed a 5 percent drop in the number of kids between the critical ages of 6 and 26 months being tested for lead. The number of abatements of lead burdened housing has increased significantly.
Key trends include:
Child Poverty. In 2014, 18 percent – nearly 13,000 – of Newark children lived in extreme poverty, compared to 7 percent of New Jersey children overall. Extreme poverty, or 50 percent of the federal poverty threshold, was an annual household income of $11,925 or less for a family of four.
The percent of kids living in low-income households (annual household earnings of $47,700 for a family of four) was more than double the state average of 32 percent in 2014. Low-income is defined as 200 percent of the federal poverty level.
While the median income of Newark families with children grew by 16 percent, the median income of $31,329 remained far below the statewide median income of $89,020.
Births. Births to teens, ages 15-19, continue to decline, from 11 percent of all births in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012, the most recent year that data are available. Newark’s teen birth rate, however, remains twice as high as the statewide average of 5 percent.
Child Care. Since 2011, the number of licensed child care centers in Newark declined dramatically, from 202 to 156, and the overall capacity fell by 7 percent. The number of registered providers of child care in their own homes decreased by 20 percent since 2011, although there was an increase between 2014 and 2015. The number of vouchers to help families pay for child care increased 2 percent since 2011, but decreased between 2013 and 2014.
Education. Between the 2010-11 and 2014-15 school year, enrollment in the city’s charter schools more than doubled from 6,400 to 13,810 students, although the majority of Newark students still remain in district schools. During that same time, incidents of violence, vandalism, weapons and substance abuse inside Newark district schools decreased. The city’s graduation rate continues to improve.
Juvenile Arrests. Juvenile arrests decreased from 773 arrests in 2010 to 489 in 2014, in addition to the annual number of admissions to juvenile detention, although African American youths continue to be overrepresented in the detention population.
Family Economics. The number of claims for both the federal and state Earned Income Tax Credit, as well as the average claim amounts, continue to increase. The median rent paid in Newark – $981 a month, continues to rise, with 57 percent of households spending more than 30 percent of their household income on rent.
Zalkind urges policymakers, government officials, and community organizations to continue to use the Kids Count data to determine how best to allocate resources for the betterment of all children in our state.
Advocates for Children of New Jersey is the trusted, independent voice putting children’s needs first for more than 35 years. Our work results in better laws and policies, more effective funding and stronger services for children and families. And it means that more children are given the chance to grow up safe, healthy, and educated. For more information, visit www.acnj.org. Follow ACNJ on Twitter @acnjforkids and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/acnjforkids.
KIDS COUNT® is a registered trademark of the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Follow Annie E. Casey Foundation on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.